The ushering in of a new year for most represents a new beginning a clean slate, a chance to start over. All valid goals and aspirations for a specific point in time. At one time that too is what the new year represented to me, a new beginning, and some sense it is the same with different perspective. But, the new year for me is also the entering of a year when Charlotte didn't physically exist. I remember this feeling loss vividly last year with my dad. We celebrate, we make resolutions, we vow to accomplish great things, but ultimately for me, we enter into a year where Charlotte never was, and never will be physically with me. She will always last exist in 2016, and that breaks my heart.
I have tried to venture out into the real world here and there (and have discovered many times it is too soon), but I am struck by the hustle and the bustle of people around me. I watch their foot steps, their movements, their actions and I picture that person leaving pieces of themselves with every step. I see it as dust, in varying colors representing them. Then I think of the how many of our paths have overlapped, how many places we have left pieces of ourselves, that then have been covered by pieces of others. If you think about the city, or the state, think of all the places you have gone and how many places you have left pieces of your self. All the places you have seen, all the mundane everyday tasks you have done - grocery shopping, getting gas, going to the doctor, these are all places where part of you has been, where you have left an invisible marker of the course of your life. I think of all the tracks that Charlotte left with me around the city, errands, in the isles of Hobby Lobby, the path to the park, the course of the Twin Cities marathon and I think "She was there, she has left her mark here". I know I attach a lot of meaning to things that she sat in, that she used, but it is because she left her foot prints there in her life by being in a chair, by laying in a certain spot, they are pieces of her that I can hold on to. My point in all of this is that we all carry on in life putting one foot in front of the other, running errands, doing mundane things, without thinking about the fact that we are leaving our mark every step we take and these are opportunities for us to leave a bigger mark than just the foot steps of our presence. Simple things that may seem silly or like no big deal, but what if we smiled at the person walking down the isle towards us, or even said "Good morning to them", or what if engaged with the check out person who clearly doesn't want to be there, and is doing the job to put food on the table for their family? Spreading joy doesn't have to be an overt act every time, we can make a bigger mark in our day to day life, and spread joy by being present and aware that our presence has an impact even if we don't think it does. Our footsteps matter, they mean something, they represent us, and our life, where we have been, what we have done, and adding joy to those footsteps is simple, and makes them even more meaningful that they were before.
I could easily sit here and think about all the sad footsteps that Charlotte's life left around the city this past year - there were a lot of them - a lot of my footsteps were fear filled, tear filled, and heartbroken, but Charlotte left a lot of amazing imprints of herself between the hard,sad ones, and no one can ever erase that she was there. She went to several movies, she went camping twice, she ran a marathon, she trained for a marathon, she went on an airplane, she went to Hawaii, she swam in the ocean, she felt sand on her feet, she went on many trips to target, Hobby Lobby, and Michaels, she went to church at our new parish, she saw Sophie's school, she snuggled on the floor, she played with her sister, she enjoyed the fresh air of our beautiful patio some amazing people built for her, she had BBQs, and the list goes on. She left her mark in so many places throughout the city, and no one can ever take that away. I cling to that as I usher in a new year where she never was in physical form. I can walk through the isles of Hobby Lobby and know she was there, I can sit on our patio and feel her presence that she left, I can camp and know she was in the tent - and so despite the physical part being gone, we will carry her into 2017 and the mark that she has made not only throughout her day to day life, but in our hearts.
I have no plans to make resolutions for 2017. 2017 is going to be hard. I have a long journey with grief and sadness that I have to work through. One that is not fun, one that breaks me to my core, and sometimes makes me want to crawl into a dark hole and hide. But I also have big plans that I hope I can get accomplished in 2017, plans for Charlotte, plans to continue to make her life matter, plans to carry on her legacy of Joy. I am broken, but I am not gone, I still have many foot prints to leave on this Earth, for me and for both of my daughters.